English: Akebia fruits

Chinese: 八月札

Parts used: Dry ripe fruit

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Spleen Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Fructus Akebiae

Use of Ba Yue Zha (akebia fruits) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect the ripe fruits, sock in water until it permeates, slice it and sun-dry. Or simply clean and sun-dry it, and crush it when using.

Dosage: 9-15g

Main actions according to TCM*: Soothes the Liver and regulates Qi. Promotes Blood circulation and disperses Blood Stagnation so as to relieve pain. Eliminates irritability. Promotes urination.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ba Yue Zha may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Food stagnation Hypochondriac pain Uterine prolapse Stomach pain Abdominal pain Abdominal distension Menopause

Contraindications*: Not recommended during pregnancy.

Key TCM concepts behind Ba Yue Zha's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ba Yue Zha belongs to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.

Furthermore Ba Yue Zha is Cold in nature. This means that Ba Yue Zha typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Ba Yue Zha can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Ba Yue Zha also tastes Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like Ba Yue Zha tends to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ba Yue Zha is thought to target the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.